When it’s summertime in Chicago, our neighborhoods seem to come alive as storekeepers prop open front doors and kids fill playgrounds and ball fields at local parks.
It’s the perfect time to get up close and personal with all the great places and activities thriving in your neighborhood, and on foot is the best way to go.
So put on your walking shoes and get out there! Here are some fun walking tours in some of Chicago’s best North side neighborhoods.
Edgebrook feels like a nicely aged suburb with its leafy yards, proximity to a Cook County Forest Preserve and a Main Street-like stretch of Devon Avenue.
Cook County Forest Preserve/North Branch Trail System, Devon and Caldwell
Anyone needing a nature fix can find it here. Trails that extend north-south for 20 miles are wonderful for picnicking, walking, running and biking.
Devon Avenue, between Caldwell and Central
About a two-minute walk east of Devon/Caldwell along Devon is a fun stretch of retail and restaurants. Check out My Sister’s Closet Resale, 5413 W. Devon, a large consignment store that is a great opportunity to recycle clothing, and the new Essence Med Spa & Wellness Center, 6413 N. Kinzua, where spa and skin care services are available. And don’t forget to eat: this strip of Devon has Thai food at Thai Elephant, 5348 W. Devon, and Brazilian fare at Al Primo Canto, 5414 W. Devon.
Edgebrook Cycle & Sports, 6450 N. Central Ave.
Just two blocks north of Devon is this popular neighborhood bike store. Don’t have a bike? They’ll rent you a bike for $9/hour, minimum two-hour rental.
Jefferson Park is a great neighborhood for families, with a retail corridor in the area of Milwaukee and Lawrence where business owners often know many of their customers.
Jefferson Park, 4822 N. Long Ave.
With seven acres of baseball diamonds, tennis courts, an outdoor pool and a soccer field, there’s plenty of space for everyone. The park is hosts all-volunteer Citywide Orchestra, which holds seasonal concerts.
Jefferson Park Library, 5363 W. Lawrence Ave.
Just a block east of Jefferson Park (the park itself) is the library. Check out chipublib.org and pull up Jefferson Park, or call (312) 744-1998 to find out more about kids story times and the library’s adult book club.
Gale Street Inn, 4914 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Just 0.2 miles from the Jefferson Park Library and across the street from the Jefferson Park Blue Line stop, Gale Street Inn is a place neighborhood dwellers love. After a few hours of walking around and enjoying the day, this is a great place to get a hearty meal in a homey, family-friendly environment.
The Gift Theatre, 4802 Milwaukee Ave.
Less than a half mile south of Gale Street Inn, this is another treasure in Jefferson Park — a theatre featuring everything from improv comedy every Wednesday night to affordable dinner theatre.
Nestled between Roscoe Village and Ravenswood, North Center is probably best known for the St. Benedict church on Irving Park Road, but also for its parks and proximity to the Chicago River.
Horner Park, Montrose and California
At 55 acres, Horner is one of the city’s largest parks and spans from Montrose, where the field house is located, to Irving Park (with the Chicago River bordering on the east) and is filled with families picnicking, baseball and soccer games and walking trails.
Welles Park, Montrose and Western
A half mile west is the smaller but charming Welles Park, home to oodles of kids sports and families walking dogs, taking their tots to the brand new playground on Sunnyside and the “hot dog lady,” who sells inexpensive treats along Montrose. There’s also a gazebo where an occasional band might just show up and play on a warm day.
Drew’s Eatery, 2207 W. Montrose Ave.
There’s nothing like long walks and fresh air to whet the appetite. Drew’s Eatery is a perfect stop next to Welles Park that offers healthy takes on favorite fare, from vegan sausages to organic soups, PB&J sandwiches and soy or all-natural ice cream. No guilt here!
Snappy’s Shrimp House, 1901 Irving Park Road
If you walk down Lincoln Avenue from Drew’s Eatery toward Irving Park Road, you’ll pass plenty of bars and restaurants. But take a left onto Irving Park Road and just a block up you’ll come across a local favorite, Snappy’s Shrimp House, with a bustling carryout business and a cash-only policy — perfect for popping in for a quick and affordable seafood snack, or a quick bite to take home after work.
Photo by Steve Matteo Photography.